Quality of Life
Quality of life
Improving your quality of life can include anything from massage therapy to speaking with a compassionate counselor. Please let us know if there are additional activities you’d like to see available. We’re here for you.
Cancer is more than a physical disease. Quality cancer care focuses on caring for the whole person… mind, body and spirit… and the whole family.
The Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center of Iowa provides the area’s only physician-led, patient and family-centered cancer care. We will work closely with you, your family and your physicians to coordinate services and provide services and resources to improve your quality of life.
Emotional Well-being and Support
An oncology certified social worker is available to provide support for you and your family. This includes coping with a cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment and survivorship; caregiver stress; helping children/teens better understand cancer; community resources and financial issues.
Being diagnosed with cancer changes your life, affects your loved ones and changes how you look at things. Having cancer causes distress in everyone and effects how you and your family cope with cancer. Distress can range from feeling overwhelmed, sad and fearful to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Emotional support services focus on the unique needs of:
Sometimes life-long coping strategies simply cannot keep up with the emotional effects of cancer. Cancer treatments themselves can cause or add to symptoms of anxiety and depression (changes in sleep, appetite and energy levels). And on top of all that, physical changes may lead to feeling insecure or self-conscious about your appearance.
Research shows you can improve your coping if you:
- Talk to people about your feelings, fears and reactions
- Recruit and use the support of friends and family
- Continue to be involved in activities as much as your energy level lets you
- Get or stay connected to whoever gives you spiritual support
- Join a support group (on-line or in-person)
During treatments you devote your time and energy to fighting the illness. Work, family and day-to-day activities are replaced by doctor appointments and dealing with treatment effects. Emotional issues may go unrecognized or untreated because the focus is on curing the cancer and on your physical well-being.
Emotional support services for you and your family caregivers often focus on:
- Finding ways to handle issues triggered by the diagnosis
- Learning skills to handle anxious thoughts and feelings of depression
- Developing strategies to handle the daily challenges in your lives
The end of treatment often brings fears of recurrence and feelings of uncertainty. You and those around you may have been so focused on getting through treatment that you think the end of treatment means the end of having to deal with cancer in your lives. However, it is common to have distress, fatigue and other symptoms much longer after treatment than you imagined and to continue to need help coping with them.
We understand people face many concerns when challenged by health issues. Research has shown religion and spirituality are positively associated with better physical and mental health outcomes, such as lower levels of depression, anxiety and pain.
Body image and sexuality
Sexuality encompasses feelings about one’s body, the need for touch, interest in sexual activity, communication of one’s sexual needs to a partner and the ability to engage in satisfying sexual activities. We all have a lifelong need for emotional connections to others and are sexual beings independent of our age, sexual orientation, health status or current relationship status.
Research shows half of all cancer patients will experience sexual side effects from treatments. Side effects may impact your physical and emotional well-being as well as your relationship with your partner. This is true whether you are male or female, 20 or 80 years-old, single or in a relationship.
Whether newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment or trying to get on with the rest of your life, your feelings about sex and intimacy may have changed. An overall loss of desire is the most common sexual change for both men and women. The most common side effect for men is erectile dysfunction. Women often note vaginal dryness and pain with sexual activity. Other side effects (such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, hair loss, weight changes, scars, and smell or skin sensitivities) may all impact your body image, sexuality and intimacy besides leaving you feeling simply exhausted.
- Sexual health is a sensitive topic. Discuss sexual side-effects with your healthcare providers the same as you would any other side effect.
- Resources are available to help you and your partner. Care Coordinators and Social Workers are available to meet with you any time before, during or after your treatment to help address sexuality, intimacy and body image.
- A therapist is available to meet with you and/ or you and your partner. This therapist is a licensed therapist as well as a certified sex therapist who can help you address issues of low libido, sexual fatigue, body image and intimacy.
To learn more about our Body Image and Sexuality program, call (319) 558-4876 to make at appointment with our certified sex therapist or email us.
For more information on this topic, check out these helpful resource links: